Real Estate Investing

3D Printing Homes: What Are 3D Homes And Can They Be Part Of A Solution To Housing Crisis?

Tirios Team

April 11, 2023
3D Printing Homes: What Are 3D Homes And Can They Be Part Of A Solution To Housing Crisis?

Table of Contents

  • Creating 3D Homes For A Noble Cause
  • Montana Becomes The First State To Approve 3D-Printed Walls Over Concrete Masonry Units.
  • How Much Does It Cost To Build A 3D Printed House?
  • Can 3D Printing Help Solve The Housing Crisis?
  • End Verdict

With skyrocketing housing prices and higher interest rates, people are searching for alternative housing techniques. 3D Printing is a new and innovative technology that offers solutions to the current housing crisis.

In 2018, Icon 3D Printing was the first company in America to obtain a building permit and build a one-of-kind 3D-printed house in Austin, Texas. Vulcan II, Icon’s 3D construction printer, specializes in building resilient, affordable buildings with scope for customization and a printing capacity of about 600 square meters.

Vulcan can build an entire home in 24 hours using Icon’s exclusive lavacrete material. In 2015, the 3D printed house company, in collaboration with Mobile Loaves & Fishes, built a 200-resident village called Community First Village in Austin, Texas City, for homeless residents.

Multi-home projects that take years for construction can be built in a few months with the nascent technology. Icon primarily focuses on building walls, the most “trade-intensive” part, according to Jason Ballard, the co-founder, and CEO of Icon.

Although this is already making the building process “radically faster and meaningfully cheaper,” Jason Ballard told the Business Insider in March 2022. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity advocate 3D Printing as the perfect solution to reduce the demand for low-cost housing.

Creating 3D Homes For A Noble Cause

Habitat for Humanity, the world’s largest not-for-profit home builder, was founded by an ecumenical group of individuals in 1985. Since then, the local affiliate has renovated 210 houses. The organization constructed two ground-breaking projects in 2021: one in Williamsburg, Va, and another in Tempe, Arizona in collaboration with Alquist 3D and Peri 3D Constructions respectively.

Alquist, a 3D printing construction company, and Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Williamsburg have collaborated to build the company’s first 3D printed Williamsburg home in the country.

Alquist adds that it's COBOD 3D printer saves up to 10-15% overall in building costs. The cost savings increase up to a significant 20 percent when multiple homes are constructed. 

“While we are successful in building 3D printed homes abroad, at 1,700 square feet, the home is Habitat’s new venture into innovative space, ” says Adrienne Goolsby, senior vice president of U.S. and Canada at Habitat for Humans International. “A first-of-its-kind development in the U.S., it lays the foundation for increased capacity, a solution that could be cost-effective and sustainable, ” She added.

Montana Becomes The First State To Approve 3D-Printed Walls Over Concrete Masonry Units.

In a significant step towards the mainstream consolidation of 3D Printing, Montana became the first state to give regulatory approval for 3D-printed walls over traditional concrete masonry units or standard-cored concrete walls in August 2022. The development comes after Tim Stark, a contractor in Billings, Montana, filed documents, specifications, and reports generated by Apis Cor, a leading 3D printing construction company. 

The Florida-based construction company says a finished 3D printed house with its printer costs 30% less than a traditional concrete block and wood-framed homes.

“In many of the states, regulations are coming in the way of building more houses,” said Tim Stark. “I’m proud of my home state Montana for leading the way with 3D Printing as a modern construction method on par with CMU construction method,” He added.

How Much Does It Cost To Build A 3D Printed House?

3D printed constructions are an innovative edge with massive 3D printings 

affirming their hold over the industry by competing with traditional methods.

With new startups and leading engineering groups competing for market share, the companies are leveraging concrete mixtures and unique materials to create a cost-effective and sustainable solution.  

What are 3D printed houses made of? Most 3D homes use proprietary concrete-like mixtures (cement, sand, water and gravel), DFab, Plastic, Local natural material such as mud and rice waste, etc.  

With the collaboration between NewStory, a San-Francisco based non-profit housing organization, and ICON, 3D Construction Companies can build a 600-800 square foot home in just 24 hours for $4,000 or less in 2022.

Can 3D Printing Help Solve The Housing Crisis?

Amid supply chain disruption issues, labor shortages, and the rising cost of construction materials, the 3D home wave is transforming the construction industry.

3D Printing offers several benefits, such as minimum supervision by staff, reduced construction time, and overall expenses. The 3D printing process involves releasing concrete from the giant machine into layers to form walls and foundations of homes.

The machine printing process demands less supervision by staff on the site, minimizing injuries and reducing the workers’ compensation, says Kirk Anderson, director of operations of SQ4D, a New York-based 3D printing company.

However, he added that weather and lack of education on the 3D printing process amongst builders are the challenges in adopting the cost-effective technology.

End Verdict

While considering the 3D printed house advantages and disadvantages, it is unmissable that 3D Printing is a cost-effective, sustainable, and time-saving solution; however, much needs to be done to upscale the nascent technology.

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